The University has added 24-hour security to at least three residence halls following a string of daytime burglaries this semester.
Security staff are monitoring access day and night at Ivory Tower, Fulbright and JBKO halls, the halls that saw at least 10 thefts of electronics in January. Previously, guards only monitored building entrances at night.
University Police Chief Kevin Hay declined to discuss the changes or say if security will also increase in other residence halls.
Hay also declined to say when guards’ hours were extended, who decided to implement the change, how many more students UPD hired to monitor residence hall lobbies or if the University plans to station more guards at any other halls.
Most residence halls do not have guards during the daytime – while other urban schools such as New York and Northeastern universities station guards in all buildings to check identification cards 24 hours a day. Multiple GW halls also do not have guards at night.
UPD recorded more than twice as many burglaries in the Annual Security and Fire Safety Report as Northeastern University in 2011, the latest data available. NYU surpassed GW’s 39 incidents with 53 burglaries.
Three student guards said the University implemented 24-hour coverage of the halls’ entrances within the last month.
Amsterdam Hall now also has a student guard stationed 16 hours a day to make sure students swipe their GWorlds before entering, and UPD officers are posted for eight hours at night, community service aide Asheesh Banga said.
Hay and Senior Associate Vice President for Safety and Security Darrell Darnell defended GW’s safety procedures, which are more lax than those at similar schools, following the January series of room burglaries. They said students needed to be more vigilant by locking their doors and preventing strangers from trailing inside buildings behind them.
Hay said then that he did not believe halls needed additional security, but that the University reviews procedures “from time to time.”
“Ivory Tower is a busy residence hall, but we’re not to the point where that needs 24-hour coverage,” Hay said then.
The University employed 90 student entrance monitors and 21 security officers to man the two dozen residence halls, Hay said then. He added that students were assigned to monitor 10 more residence halls this academic year.
A community service aide, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said shifts have increased from 30 to 47 per day since December, when a man attempted to sexually assault a female employee in Rice Hall. He said UPD has hired and trained more students, and current employees have shifted to different residence halls because of the security increase.
“We have to move people around to make sure our priority spots are covered,” he said about the halls that experience high-volume traffic.
He added that a UPD officer told him the unit plans to expand 24-hour entrance security to all the “predominant residence halls on the Foggy Bottom campus.”
The Hatchet found that out of 19 undergraduate residence halls surveyed earlier this semester, only Potomac House and Thurston Hall had guards stationed at 3 p.m., but 11 halls had guards at 10 p.m. Potomac and Thurston require students to present photo identification 24 hours a day, and all non-student guests must sign in at the lobby.
Hay and Darnell have declined to comment multiple times on which residence halls have increased security, and for which hours.
UPD tightened access to residence halls in October 2011, when a man unlawfully entered City Hall and attempted to sexually assault a female student. Guards were stationed at more halls, and a year after the change, burglaries dropped to 39 reported cases in 2011 compared to 71 in 2010.
Monitors at buildings like City Hall, Guthridge Hall and South Hall have required photo identification eight hours a night since September, when the University pledged to crack down on incidents where individuals borrowed GWorlds from residents.
This article appeared in the April 4, 2013 issue of the Hatchet.